WMP Lab Dinner with friends 2016


From left: John Feri, Minnie Wu, Shafee Mohammed, Chelsea Parlett, Emily Sumner, Mariela Rivas, Jacky Au, Robert Kalinowski, Jason Jones (with Jimmy), Masha Jones, Nancy Tsai, Grace Lin, Jaymes Rombaoa, Ben Gibson, Cathy Tran, Desiree Rodriguez

WMP Lab 2015

Lab 2015

From left: Robert Kalinowski, Snigdha Kamarsu, Nancy Tsai, Jacky Au, Shafee Mohammed, Martin Buschkuehl, Susanne Jaeggi, Chelsea Parlett, Grace Lin, Chus Maraver, Masha Jones, Minnie Wu (& Jimmy).

Jaeggi Susanne2014_smallSusanne M. Jaeggi, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Susanne Jaeggi  (read: /ˈyakee/) grew up in a tiny village 5,407 ft above sea level in the mountains of Switzerland. She found her way down to Bern, where she completed her Ph.D.s in Psychology and Neuroscience. She later moved to Ann Arbor to expand her horizon as a Post-Doc at the University of Michigan, before joining the Department of Psychology and the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS) at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor.  She is now an Associate Professor at the UCI School of Education where she directs the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory. She also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Cognitive Sciences, and is a Fellow at the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. As a Cognitive Neuroscientist and Experimental Psychologist, she has a broad interest in general processes of working memory and related higher cognitive functions, and within that domain, the investigation of cognitive training and transfer is one of her current major foci of research. She strives to determine what training regimens and training conditions result in the best transfer effects, investigate the underlying neural and cognitive mechanisms, and finally, investigate for what populations and individuals cognitive training is most effective.

Karen Arcos, B.A.
Graduate Student

Karen Arcos is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience.  She is also a member of the Grossman Visual Perception and Neuroimaging Lab.  Karen seeks to understand how your senses-or lacking them-impact memory abilities in adults who are sighted and legally blind.  Specifically, she researches the roles of vision, hearing, and touch in one’s ability to recall and update items.  She looks forward to improving teaching to increase employment rates among the blind.  Her team’s findings may also aid in developing useful educational products.  These applications are important to Karen due to her constantly self advocating for educational equity as a result of being totally blind.  When not conducting research, Karen enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as baking desserts and hiking.

jacky - smallJacky Au, M.S.
Graduate Student

Jacky Au is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Cognitive Sciences PhD program. His interests surround the nature and enhancement of brain plasticity, including the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and computerized training of targeted cognitive processes such as working memory. His current focus combines his two interests by evaluating the enhancement of cognitive training benefits using tDCS.

Link to Jacky’s personal webpage

MashaMasha Jones, M.A.
Graduate Student

Masha Jones is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working and a doctoral candidate at UC Irvine’s School of Education, specializing in Learning, Cognition, and Development. She studies the executive functions of children with learning disabilities. Her approaches include striving to enhance executive functioning through cognitive training and attempting to better understand how differences in cognitive ability may be leveraged in support of creativity for individuals with learning disabilities.

Robert Kalinowski, B.A.
Graduate Student

Robert Kalinowski is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and typically speaks in the first person.  My primary goal is to create children’s media of the type and scale of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”  I write and perform novel songs, stories, and other interventions targeted toward nurturing the young child.  I use these interventions to experimentally test the way children acquire key skills, such as early spatial and math skills, or, to look at it another way, I use the experiments to support the creation of the media interventions.  I also research the development of intelligence through the early school years.  My pride and joy is my small army of devoted undergraduate researcher volunteers, who enthusiastically collect data by directly assessing children in their preschools and who passionately contribute to my creative enterprise  (They all get “A’s”).

Grace Lin, Ph.D.
(Former) Graduate Student

Grace Lin was a PhD student specializing in both Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD) and Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT) at UC Irvine’s School of Education. Her interests center around the reciprocal relationships between cognition and language, specifically bilingual language development and how being bilingual affects one’s cognition (e.g., math learning). She is driven by the potential application of cognitive research findings to educational settings.

shafeeShafee Mohammed, B.S.
Graduate Student

Shafee Mohammed is an Optometrist by profession and did his undergraduate studies in India followed by clinical practice for a year and a half. During practice he came to understand the problems that arise in the daily lives of the visually impaired. As a doctoral student at UC Irvine’s School of Education, he intends to understand how visual stimulus aids in learning, how it contributes to working memory and how it alters in the visually impaired population. He is further interested in the potential benefits of cognitive training in improving working memory and learning of the visually impaired.

Anja Pahor, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Anja has a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, with research experience from Slovenia, The Netherlands, and the UK. She is also a member of the UC Riverside Brain Game Center for Mental Fitness and Well-being. Her research interests involve understanding the mechanisms underlying higher-level cognitive functions, particularly memory and reasoning. She designs and implements working memory training studies, develops tests that are valid towards assessing potential learning effects, and analyses the data in order to understand which features of training lead to transfer effects.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-7-14-46-pmMariela J. Rivas, M.A.
Graduate Student

Mariela is a Ph.D. student in the UCI School of Education. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. Her work includes the application of cognitive theories of learning into instruction in higher education classrooms. A recent paper, with her Master’s advisor Ji Y. Son, was published in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Click here for a download link.

emilyEmily Sumner, B.A.
Graduate Student

Emily Sumner is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Sciences interested in the development of risk-taking preferences. Her research focuses on 1) the development of the concepts underlying decision making, 2) creating methods to detect individual differences in risk propensity, and 3) the role that executive function plays into these individual difference. She is excited by the potential of creating cognitive training that will address these differences, and reduce risky behavior in special populations. She is also a member of the Sarnecka Cognitive Development Lab.

Alexandria Weaver
Graduate Student

Alexandria Weaver is a Ph.D. student in the School of Education with a specialization in Human Development in Context (HDiC).
Alexandria’s experience as a classical pianist at a performing and visual arts high school influenced her interests in learning and memory, as well as music’s effect on these areas. She plans to investigate the effects of cognitive training, specifically how skills acquired during musical training translate to other cognitive domains.

Jenny Woo
Graduate Student

Jenny Woo is a Ph.D. student in UC Irvine’s Education program specializing in social and emotional development. She studies learning environments and experiences that foster executive function and social-emotional skills to increase children’s success in school and in life. Jenny received her Master’s in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University and MBA from UC Berkeley. She has worked in a myriad of human development roles as a human capital consultant, an executive coach in Fortune 500 companies, a Montessori school administrator, and a certified fitness trainer. Passionate about bridging research and practice, she developed 52 Essential Conversations, a social-emotional learning tool used by teachers, parents, and psychologists in 20+ countries.

See also her website:

renataRenata Callipo Fujii, M.A.
Graduate Student

Renata is a PhD student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN/RN) in Natal, Brazil. She is investigating how to strengthen executive functions of children living in extreme poverty in Natal using targeted classroom-based computerized interventions. Renata is currently a visiting graduate student at Yale University.

Kimia Akhavein, B.A.
Lab Manager

Kimia completed the Psychological Sciences Post Baccalaureate program at the University of California, Irvine in Spring 2018. Prior to this, she graduated from UC Irvine in 2016 with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is interested in how different social and cognitive factors impact children’s development. Kimia plans to attend graduate school for programs in Developmental or School Psychology in the near future. In her free time, Kimia enjoys reading and spending time with her roommates.

Austin Moon, B.S./B.A.
Lab Manager

Austin Moon received his Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience and Bachelor of Arts in Education with a minor in Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine. His research interest is looking at intervention methods that improve cognition for people with early-onset epilepsy. He plans on applying for a PhD program and focus on how epilepsy can deviate normal brain development. Outside of lab, Austin loves going on long hikes, gets involved in environmental programs, and enjoys superhero movies.

Francesca Trane, B.A.
Lab Manager

Francesca received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minor in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is interested in studying the brain and environmental influences underlying children’s persistence, motivation, and self-regulation. Francesca plans on applying to doctoral programs in clinical psychology, with the long-term goal of becoming a pediatric neuropsychologist.

image_buschkuehlMartin Buschkuehl, Ph.D.

Martin Buschkuehl’s main interest lies in cognitive training, especially working memory training where he looks at performance transfers of trained tasks to untrained ones. Besides behavioral investigations he also looks into the neural aspects of such transfers as investigated by means of fMRI. He is interested in investigating the theoretical foundations of transfer but also in applied aspects of working memory training. In his work he not only focuses on healthy young adults, but also on old adults, typically developing children, and children diagnosed with ADHD. He is the Director for Education Research at the MIND Research Institute.

Current (Undergraduate) Research Assistants (Fall 2018-): 

  • Galila Assefa
  • Jamisyn Atlas
  • Lara Barakat
  • Amanda Bishop
  • Benjamin Bui
  • Sara Burt
  • Elizabeth Carlisle
  • Bryce Carson
  • Guillermo Castro
  • Haoyue Chang
  • Tommy Chee
  • Robert Chen
  • Yuda Chen
  • Marsha Choc
  • Katerina Christhilf
  • Christine Constantino
  • Quynh Do
  • Adeh Hakobian
  • Aileen Hsu
  • Shireen Khan
  • Simran Kukreja
  • Hanna Lagman
  • Charlie Li
  • Daniel Milton
  • Chris Ngov
  • Joanna Nguyen
  • Elena Park
  • Caleb Pitts
  • Angelina Quagletti
  • Madison Ramos
  • Yulissa Rojas-Montes De Oca
  • Angelica Sheen
  • Rahel Smith
  • Mohammed Tourchain
  • Christy Tran
  • Jennifer Truong
  • Yuya Xu
  • Kerry Zeng
Kreshnik Begolli, Ph.D.
(Former) Graduate Student

Kreshnik Begolli’s research arena alternates between the laboratory and the classroom in attempts to develop research in understanding how humans learn and impart knowledge. His studies draw from cognitive research in analogical reasoning, working memory, metacognition, perceptual learning, and language development. He is motivated by a curious mind and a desire to advance science and education. Kreshnik investigates individual differences in working memory when learning from analogy-based lessons that foster students’ conceptual thinking as well as – mathematical reasoning and generalizations.

Keko is now Dr. Begolli and a Lecturer at Cal State Long Beach.

Elena Carbone, M.A.
Visiting Graduate Student, 2017

Elena Carbone is a P.h.D. student in University of Padova’s  Psychological Sciences course. She has a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation and a II-Level Short Specialization degree in Psychology of Aging, both from the University of Padova, Italy.

As a doctoral student, she is interested in: i) assessing the role of age and individual differences in both cognitive abilities (e.g. spatial abilities, working memory) and individuals’ attitude toward spatial tasks in explaining spatial navigation and route learning performance; ii) understanding whether it is possible to compensate, limit and slow down older adults’ cognitive age-related decline in spatial navigation and route learning abilities – particularly relevant for older adults’ purpose of living independently by moving around efficiently and reaching places – thanks to effective cognitive training.

auroraAurora LePort, Ph.D.
Former post-doc & collaborator

Aurora LePort was an Assistant Project Scientist at UC Irvine’s School of Education and Head of Research at grandPad Inc. Understanding what drives learning, memory and healthy aging has long since fascinated her. As a Ph.D. student, in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at UC Irvine, she became a pioneer in the field of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Dr. LePort has shown how the brain and behavior, of a rare human population, may be contributing to exceptional autobiographical memory. Aurora was a Fellow with Data Incubator and she is now a Data Scientist at Verizon Wireless in Irvine.

Link to Aurora’s website.

María Jesús MaraverCROPPED-mjesus600
Visiting Graduate Student, 2015

María Jesús Maraver is a PhD student from the Psychology Doctorate Program at the University of Granada (Spain) and a member of the Memory and Language Research Group. She was a visiting specialist at the UCI funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. Her work is based on the hypothesis that interference control in memory and language is solved by means of inhibitory control mechanisms that suppress competing information. She aims to study whether cognitive training interventions may enhance inhibitory control mechanisms involved in working memory and reading comprehension processes.

img_8566Snigdha Kamarsu, B.S.
(Former) Lab Manager

Snigdha Kamarsu has a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from UC Irvine. She enjoys learning about new cognitive measures and is interested in the neural pathways of memory. Snigdha plans to apply her knowledge from cognitive science to validate and implement new diagnostic assessments as a future neuropsychologist. When not at work in the lab, Snigdha enjoys reading, exploring new places, and learning new recipes.

Snigdha is now a project coordinator (Staff Research Associate 2) at University of California, San Diego’s Department of Psychiatry working to better understand how self awareness of a patient’s symptoms can affect their performance with tasks of independent living. This will aid Snigdha to becoming a robust clinician and a neuropsychologist in the near future.

Nina Ozbardakci, B.A.
(Former) Lab Manager

Nina Ozbardakci received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include child and adolescent development and psychopathology. In particular, she aims to focus on the study of cognitive functioning in young adults. Outside of lab, Nina enjoys baking sweets, reading memoirs, and experiencing live music.

Nina is now a part of the Survey Research Group at the RAND Corporation, where she works on various national projects to address public policy issues impacting populations across the lifespan.

chelseaChelsea Parlett, B.S.
(Former) Lab Manager

Chelsea earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the UC San Diego with concentrations in Clinical and Behavioral Psychology. She loves statistics and education and will talk to you about linear models and ANOVAs any day. Her interests include exploring how to help people learn statistics more effectively and computational methods for behavioral sciences.

Chelsea is now a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, and she studies these (and more!) topics at Chapman University while completing her PhD in Computational and Data Science. If you think stats is fun (or think you should think that) check out her blog or Youtube channel! In her free time, Chelsea enjoys reading, writing, yoga, and hiking.

TeyaTeya Rutherford, Ph.D.

Teya is now an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University.

Link to Teya’s personal website

nancy-smallNancy Tsai, Ph.D
(Former) Graduate Student

Nancy Tsai was a Ph.D. student in UC Irvine’s Education program with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD).  She hopes to apply her studies of Cognitive Neuroscience to inform the development and evaluation of interventions aimed to promote learning. As a doctoral student, Nancy examined the development of Executive Functions, the factors that foster or impair this development, and the programs aimed to improve it.

Nancy is now a post-doc working in the in the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – congrats and good luck!

minnieMinnie Wu, B.S.
(Former) Project Coordinator

Minnie Wu has a Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Psychology and Education from her hometown’s own UC Irvine. She is interested in neuropsychology and enjoys educational game design from many perspectives, including how to motivate people to learn and what goes into building games that are both helpful and fun. When not in the lab, Minnie enjoys writing fantasy, reading theology, and playing video games.

Minnie is now a PhD student at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at UCI.

Current Collaborators at Other Institutions

Undergraduate Alumni – keep us updated!

  • Marcela Aguila
  • Rohan Ahuja
  • Celena Alvarez
  • Lusine Aleksanian
  • Celena Alvarez
  • Claire Arakelian
  • Daniel Barakh
  • Astrid Bartolo
  • Leah Benci-Woodward
  • Brett Benner
  • Taysheona Brodie
  • Kimberly Bunarjo
  • Joseph Cachapero
  • Ling Chen
  • Viviana Cortes
  • Nick Davey, graduate student Counseling Psychology, Washington State University
  • John Feri
  • Julia Fong
  • Alyssa Ford
  • Ben Gibson, graduate student, The University of New Mexico
  • Afnan Gissri
  • Cristy Gonzalez
  • Karen Gonzalez
  • Eden Harder
  • Meir Hauser, PhD, Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Brooke Herd, graduate student, Clinical Psychology, Azusa Pacific University
  • Gabriela Hernandez
  • Diane Hua
  • Jason Huling
  • Jenan Husain
  • Nicky Huynh
  • Daisy Jaimes
  • Shin Jang
  • Afraah Javed
  • Ratiana Karapet
  • Carla Kekejian, graduate student, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Utah
  • Saad Khan
  • Sabrina Khan
  • Phillip Kim
  • Chris Koniniec
  • Aurora Lee
  • Hye Lee
  • Stephanie Leon
  • Yuxuan Liao
  • Jocelyn Lopez
  • Caricia Marquez
  • Cristal Martinez
  • Cristal Martinez-Ramirez
  • Maximilian Mead
  • Rahel Mong
  • Stephanie Munoz
  • Silvia Navarro Hernandez
  • Priscilla Ng
  • Hao Ngo
  • Karen Nguyen
  • Mitchell Nguyen
  • Sophia Nguyen
  • Carly O’Brien
  • Ellen Oum
  • Chan Woo Park
  • Alondra Perez
  • Tiffany Pranajasa
  • Brian Rayburn
  • April Rodriguez
  • Desiree Rodriguez
  • Jaymes Rombaoa
  • Haley Ryan
  • Nicholas Samaha
  • Hannah Sayono
  • Parimala Sharma
  • Ellen Sheehan
  • Amanpreet Shokar
  • Alexandra Shurlock
  • Ally Stegman
  • Emily Sudduth
  • Dorreen Sun
  • Alex Tebbe
  • Jacqueline Thai
  • Natasha Vilches
  • Samantha Wilson
  • Shane Wise
  • Ting Yang
  • Iliana Yepez
  • Ran (Eva) Yi